Julez Smith Had NBA Dreams Before Modeling Came Along, As Told In His ‘Vogue’ Debut

Just two months after he made his New York Fashion Week debut, Julez Smith is breaking his silence on his life as a model and his plans before following in the fashion footsteps of his mother Solange, aunt Beyoncé, and grandmother Tina Knowles.

“It came pretty naturally,” the 19-year-old told Vogue in his first major interview. “Growing up, my grandma was doing costumes for my auntie and my mom, and I think my mom is one of the best-dressed people in the world. I just wanted to be fly and keep up with them—but I wanted to be on the modeling side.”

Prior to signing with Next Management, Smith also revealed that he initially thought he was going to be a pro athlete in the NBA.

“I played basketball growing up, so that was always a big factor when picking a school. I always wanted to play for the school that had the best team. I was really a hooper—I thought I was going to the NBA,” he explained.

Smith revealed that he had a desire to model for years, but “it just never really worked out.” He considered his February 2024 debut with Luar to be his “breakthrough.”

Of the coveted opportunity, he stated, “I was actually interning with them for a couple of months, and maybe like a week before the show they were just like, ‘Come to the casting.’ So I went to the casting and I got it.” The night of his show, his whole family was there and he felt “good” to have their support.

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In order to master his walk, Smith confessed that Solange and Mama Tina drilled him to “practice, practice, practice,” but he also studied other runway models on YouTube. His favorite show to study was the late Virgil Abloh’s last show for Louis Vuitton. “I probably watched that once a week. I love that show,” he joked.  

He credited his relentless pursuit of modeling to witnessing Solange and Bey’s work ethic. “Growing up, my mom and aunt were doing photo shoots every other week, and I saw how jam-packed and busy it was. It’s good to already understand, ‘Okay, you’re going to have to get up early, be on time, and work long hours.’ And everything moves really fast. It’s work, but I like it,” said Smith, but overall, he considers himself to be “pretty chill” and spends his free time either watching “suspenseful” films like Queen & Slim and Prisoners or listening to Cleo Sol and Marvin Gaye.